Zaha Hadid frontrunner to buy London’s Design Museum
Architecture gallery proposal is favourite out of eight bids for Shad Thames site
Zaha Hadid emerged this week as the favourite to buy the Design Museum in London after impressing with her plans to turn it into an architecture museum.
BD understands that the two-time Stirling Prize winner’s bid is with a private backer and is one of eight potential buyers eyeing the site at Shad Thames, which is up for sale ahead of the museum moving into its new home in 2014.
It is understood the 1950s building, originally used to ripen bananas, is expected to fetch between £4 and £7 million.
As it stands, the museum lends itself well to architecture exhibitions, with recent headlining shows from John Pawson, Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield and Hadid herself.
Hadid, who is already working on a museum scheme in London to extend and refurbish the Magazine Storeyard in Kensington Gardens, declined to comment but under the architect’s proposals the museum is expected to be filled with a series of models of contemporary architecture.
Stephen Bayley, who set up the Design Museum with Terence Conran, said that the building would be “perfect for someone who wanted a ready-made museum”.
The building has exhibition space over two floors and a restaurant on the first floor, which under the current terms of the sale has to stay on the site.
Local authority Southwark Council is keen the building remains a museum. The borough already boasts 14 museums including the Imperial War Museum, Clink Prison Museum and Fashion & Textile Museum.
It has been occupied by the Design Museum since 1989 with the lease owned by the Conran Foundation — the charity headed by Terence Conran which bankrolls the running costs of both the Design Museum and is a benefactor for the Royal College of Art. Last year it handed over £826,500 to the pair.
Proceeds from the sale will be used to help fund the £80 million cost of the Design Museum’s new building at the RMJM-designed Commonwealth Institute inKensington. Pawson is redesigning the interior of the grade II* listed building while OMA is drawing up plans for surrounding residential development.
The museum’s new home will have three times the space at the current site — which will be used to increase the amount of architectural content it displays — and is expected to draw 500,000 visitors every year.
The Design Museum’s sale is being handled by property agent Cushman & Wakefield, which this week confirmed the process was still ongoing.